Monday, April 22, 2013


Directed by Nicholas Jarecki.
2012. Rated R, 107 minutes.
Tim Roth
Laetitia Casta
Graydon Carter
Chris Eigeman
Stuart Margolin
Reg E. Cathey
Bruce Altman
Curtiss Cook

Robert Miller (Gere) is the kind of financial wizard that graces the cover of Forbes magazine. Business is booming and he has his adult children helping him run his ridiculously lucrative operation. He’s just turned sixty and celebrates with some cake and ice cream with the family, including wife Ellen (Sarandon) and then sneaks out to see his mistress Julie (Casta). What none of them know is that everything isn't really so swell. He’s going broke and has cooked the books to make his business look like it’s standing on solid ground to James Mayfield (Carter), the potential buyer he’s trying to close a deal with. Of course, this isn't something he shares freely seeing how it may land him in prison for a very long time. Still, something somehow more troubling takes place. He gets himself into an even more immediate bind that threatens to get him into a jail cell even sooner than having numbers falsified which, in turn, puts his deal in jeopardy and the financial future of lots of people who have no clue what’s going on. A very rich man trying to weasel his way out of trouble ensues.

At first, Arbitrage seems as if it’s going to be strictly an economic thriller in the mold of MarginCall. While not as gripping, it was still an interesting. It then has a rather abrupt changing of gears that works excellently, kicking the tension up a couple notches as we wonder if and how Robert will get out of this jam. We watch the world around him crumble. His facade begins to fade away, at least to his family. They eventually find out there is trouble afoot with the business, but still don’t know about his other misdeed. The police do and are desperately trying to gather proof. 

Richard Gere delivers the goods with an excellent portrayal. He makes us understand that Robert is not just a man who believes that money fixes all problems, but he knows there is no truer thing in all the universe. Fittingly, he’s a character we’re not sure we can get behind. Do we see a man who made some bad choices but is really doing these things for the greater good or, is this an evil rich guy throwing around what monetary weight he has left? The answer may depend on your political leanings. No. Politics is never explicitly mentioned. Still, yours may color the goggles through which you view this movie, particularly the ending.

The rest of the movie mixes the two story lines very well achieving suspense without suddenly injecting unnecessary action sequences. It sticks to it’s story in a manner that feels as if it comes from real life. In fact, it seems like the onset of the current recession has been combined with a Kennedy family headline. So this isn't something that comes at us from out of left field. Though almost none of us have brokered half-billion dollar deals, we've seen lots of news of this type. This is where the power of Arbitrage lies. It puts us inside a story we have all heard about in some form or another.

MY SCORE: 7/10

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